In South Africa: My Experience Overall

This is going to be my masterpost on this stunning country, you will find links to all my posts scattered throughout.

Where do you start with trying to sum up South Africa? Firstly, the amount of wildlife and beautiful landscapes have meant that I have completely fallen in love with this country but there is so much more to South Africa. The people, the oceans, the wildlife, the landscapes, the things to do, it all adds up to make such a fantastic experience.

Johannesburg:

I have to be honest there is nothing about Johannesburg that stands out to me during my two day visit, we stayed in the Intercontinental, Sandton. I have to say after a 11 hour flight and almost 24 hours of travelling, the Intercontinental is fantastic. The staff are nothing but kind and chatty, they give you advice and are so respectful. The rooms are lovely, so comfortable and clean. The Sandton Mall is attached to the hotel and is a great place to shop, lots of different brands and retailers, supermarkets and a big food court.

I then went out of the city to go to the Cradle of Humankind which was great, loved the vistas and the open plains.

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Kruger, Mpumalanga:

This area of South Africa is just amazing from the mountains to the must see Kruger National Park. I loved every second of it, driving for hours and hours seeing the most amazing landscapes and creatures. I cannot recommend this area enough! I stayed in the Protea Hotel, Paul Kruger Gate. It is a great place to stay and a perfect location, really really worth it.

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Cape Town (Central):

Like all cities, it is a little dirty but other than that it is very multicultural with great places to eat and really nice things to do. You can see Table Mountain from all over the city, it is wonderful to get such a panoramic view of one mountain. We stayed in the Holiday Inn at St. Georges Mall, really nice hotel, good area, really good restaurants and shops very close by.

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Cape Town (Surrounding Areas):

There are some amazing things to do on the outskirts of city centre Cape Town, the look out point Signal Hill, the wonderful Waterfront area. There are a number of different spots in the Table Mountain National Park, the park runs the length of the mountains of the western cape. Some sights to see include Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope and Boulders Beach. There are many more spots but these were a few of the areas I visited.

Hermanus:

Hermanus is the most stunning seaside town. There are mountains and beach that make this area beautiful and with the addition of the most beautiful mammals in the ocean, this location is just perfect. With whale watching and cage diving opportunities available there is so much to do and see while still being a peaceful, relaxing place.

Stellenbosch:

We rented an absolutely fantastic house in Haskell vineyards. This area of the world is stunningly beautiful, you would wake up to so many different species of birds flying around the trees, all different colours and sizes, you would see little deer or mongooses running around outside. This location is in front of the mountains. It is green and peaceful and always so beautiful. The area has lots of different vineyards and that means different restaurants, I didn’t eat in them but I can get a recommendation of 96 Winery Road restaurant that is 10 minutes away. The house is nicely decorated and really comfortable. It is great to buy and cook your own food, fresh fruit and vegetables are great! There are lots of things to do in the area I would recommend Spier Winery, great food and a wonderful experience.

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Eating:

I have only made a small list of places to eat and things to eat but really, the food is normal and always very tasty. There is nothing out of the ordinary or “strange” South Africans like their meat so even the most normal of palate is satisfied.

Before I sign off there is one more thing. There are things in this country that need to change but it will not take a day or a year, it is generations of work, hopefully one day the gap between sections of society will lessen. I am no where near educated enough on the matter but something about how there is almost two groups living on different paths in the same country makes me feel very odd. I do not know how to end this section but I want to make it known that it doesn’t matter what you look like it matters how good of a person you are and everyone I met in this country (Bar two very ignorant women) were nothing more than friendly, helpful and welcoming.

The only thing that went wrong on this holiday was my skydive. It was too windy and the pilot canceled it but out of two and a half week only one thing went array. That is pretty good going!

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So that’s it. They are all my posts on this amazing country. If you ever get the opportunity to go or want to save up the money, I urge you to do it. It is too beautiful and thankfully, in a country so big, there will always be more to explore.

Happy Travels!

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In South Africa: Kruger National Park

I have wanted to go to Kruger National Park for so many years. It has been on my bucket list to go on safari and ever since I watched The Wild Thornberrys I have wanted to see wild animals in Africa (also to talk to them but I don’t think I can achieve this). It has been a dream of mine for about 16 years.PhoebeGill141014048

The flight from Johannesburg to Nelspruit is thirty five minutes, very quick flight, you even get a carton of juice and a pastry, what more could you want.

Kruger about the size of Wales, so there is a lot of terrain you can cover and lots of gates you can enter and exit. You can go wherever as long as you are out of the park on time.

We stayed right next to the Paul Kruger Gate. A fantastic location, it is amazing as you are driving down the road you see wildebeest or zebra, it’s amazing. There is a bridge right in front of the Paul Kruger gate over the Sabie river. Before you even get into the park you can find wildlife on the river. The first animal we saw was an elephant in the tall grass.PhoebeGill141014029

We had a Jeep so we were able to go on the dirt roads, we generally stayed along the Sabie, I am very glad we did. Naturally animals go to water, so it is very likely you will see everything you want to see.

We went on three drives. First when we arrived at our hotel so around 2pm. One 5:30am – 9:30am and 1pm – 5:45. All amazing.PhoebeGill141014155-2

Tips:

  1. Look at previous sightings, there is a facebook and twitter page dedicated to what people see in the park. https://twitter.com/latestkruger Know where the animals are so you have a better shot at seeing them.
  2. Get a map, know where you are and how you can get back, don’t get stuck in the park.
  3. Bring suncream and sunglasses, you have no idea about the wind whipping you will get sitting in the back of a car and also the wind in your eyes for three hours is painful. Sun is hot, it’s africa.
  4. Get up early. I mean really early. Morning time is incredible in Kruger.
  5. If you see an elephant in the middle of the road. Back up. Elephants can be aggressive, they have killed people before. I am not sure about Rhino or Hippo but again these animals can be aggressive so be careful. Reverse is your friend, do it.
  6. Look in the trees! You never know what you could spot.PhoebeGill141014032-3

Animals I saw:

  1. Elephants (Probably around 90 in the total three drives)
  2. Black Rhino
  3. White Rhino
  4. Hippo
  5. Buffaloes
  6. Vervet Monkeys
  7. Chacma Baboons
  8. Giraffe
  9. Wildebeest
  10. Impala
  11. Greater Kudu
  12. Hyena
  13. Zebra
  14. Lilac Breasted Roller
  15. Sable
  16. Springbok
  17. Yellow Billed Hornbill
  18. Warthog
  19. Water Monitor
  20. Crocodile
  21. African Fish Eagle
  22. Martial Eagle
  23. Egyptian Goose
  24. Mongoose
  25. Bush Baby
  26. BatsPhoebeGill141014171

Some of my favourite moments:

  1. Zebra walking past our room. They were just grazing outside the window…amazing.
  2. Sitting in between a herd of elephants; they were at the river, females and calfs. We just turned off the car, rolled down the windows and watched these beautiful amazing creatures drink, eat and play. Absolutely amazing to watch such an amazing family dynamic.
  3. A whole herd of elephants coming up behind us at sunset. Absolutely amazing they were walking beside the river and we drove along beside them until they decided to walk on the road behind us. Incredible moment.
  4. A whole herd of buffaloes crossing the road causing a traffic jam.
  5. Coming across a huge beautiful black rhino. Just amazing.
  6. Watching a hippo cross the road. She decided she wanted to go to the other side of the river so right on the bridge, where everyone drives in and out, she just pottered across the road. It was just incredible.
  7. Lightening storm at dinner, sitting listening to the thunderous air and flashes of lightening.
  8. Watching bush babies at dinner.PhoebeGill141014069-4

Kruger is my disneyland. It is the happiest place on earth. If you take the 11 hour flight to Johannesburg and you don’t go to Kruger you are a fool. This place is just amazing and I can’t wait to go back.

Happy Travels!